Beyond Gloom: Solutions to the Global Coral Reef Decline
November 10, 2010
The world's coral reefs are in trouble. Due to a variety of factors—including ocean acidification, warming temperatures from climate change, overfishing, and pollution—coral cover has decline by approximately 125,000 square kilometers in the past 50 or so years. This has caused some marine biologists, like Charlie Veron, Former Chief Scientist of the Australian Institute of Marine Science, to predict that coral reefs will be largely extinguished within a century. This year alone, large-scale coral bleaching events, whereby coral lose their symbiotic protozoa and become prone to disease and mortality, were seen off the coasts of Indonesia, the Philippines, and some Caribbean islands. However a new paper in Trends in Ecology and Evolution attempts to dispel the gloom over coral reefs by pointing to strategies, and even some successes, to save them.
"We have a very good scientific understanding of what causes reefs to decline—what we now need is a clearer picture of how to help them back onto the reverse trajectory," says lead author, Terry Hughes from the Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies at James Cook University.
Research has shown that coral reefs are resilient and even capable of recovering from large-scale devastating events.
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